A Splendid Second Megan Taylor Interview
Welcome back, Megan. So, The Dawning, your second book is about to be published. Could you tell us a little about it?
I’m generally interested in (/nosy about) family dynamics, particularly when under stress, and with ‘The Dawning’, I wanted to create a story full of suspense and (hopefully) page-turning drama, which also dipped below the surface of my characters. I wanted to explore the threats arising from within, as well as from outside, one troubled family.
My writing is often obsessed with our secret selves – the private anxieties and memories that we all carry, but rarely share, that nonetheless fundamentally shape who we really are. Caught in a crisis situation, I’m as interested in how a character responds internally as I am in their actions. There’s also often a strange kind of beauty there – perhaps our secret selves burn brightest against the dark.
Describe The Dawning in no more than ten words.
A family reaches breaking point during one unforgettable, midwinter night.
How different did you find the experience of writing a second novel to the first?
It was very different. ‘How We Were Lost’ was written in precious, snatched moments (mostly in the hour each morning when my daughter was at nursery). I stumbled along, but it was fun.
I felt a little more pressure when it came to ‘The Dawning’, but I was able to take more time as I worked on it while studying for a Creative Writing MA. This also meant that it was subject to feedback right from the start. I’m very grateful to my tutors and classmates at Manchester Metropolitan University for all their help and support.
How do the two books compare?
Although both are dark, suspenseful family dramas, I made a conscious decision to move away from a first person point of view with ‘The Dawning’. I wanted the challenge of juggling multiple characters and situations without losing a sense of intimacy. ‘The Dawning’ has a very distinct timeframe too – the whole novel is set over a single night, and it also perhaps plays more obviously with thriller elements.
The Dawning is set in a Peak District town. Two questions in one: why did you choose that location, and which town (I live reasonably close to the Peak District and I’m nosy)?
I moved from London to Nottingham six years ago. Before then, I’d never visited the Peak District. It has been an almost life-changing discovery and we’re there as often as we can be these days. The first ideas and images behind ‘The Dawning’ came tumbling at me all at once one dreamy evening following a country walk.
I haven’t named which small Peak District town I’ve borrowed for ‘The Dawning’. Perhaps it’s an amalgamation. Perhaps it’s the place you imagine it to be.
The book’s published on January 23rd – are you doing any readings or signings we could come to?
I’m reading at Nottingham Writers Studio on 21st January, but this is open to NWS members only. Hopefully there will be further readings too. Keep an eye on my blog or website to find out more …
What’s the best bit about being an author?
Apologies in advance for any cheesiness, but there really are tons of best bits. Connecting with readers who understand what you’re trying to say, and then take you even further with their responses. That moment when you first hold your published book, or see it on a bookshop shelf. The writing itself, of course – the fascinating and fabulous places it transports you to.
And the worst?
Absolutely nothing (especially right now). I’ve wanted to be an author since childhood. I am a very lucky girl.
If you could recommend one book to me, which would it be? (Mine would be Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender.)
For me, this changes all the time. Over the last year, I’ve been trying to catch up with modern classics I’ve always meant to read and somehow never got around to. Last summer, I read Kesey’s ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ for the first time – it blew me away. I’ve also just finished Carver’s ‘Cathedral’ – amazing! His short story ‘Fever’ especially utterly undid me (but in a very fine way).
Sorry – that’s two already and I’ve only just started thinking about it!
Anything you’d like to add?
An enormous thank you Nik – it’s very lovely to be visiting again.